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6 Designers Leading the Charge on Sustainability at Clerkenwell Design Week 2024: MuzwAa Reports Live From London


In exclusive conversations with MuzwAa at the UK's premier design festival, 6 leading furniture and lighting designers talk about how sustainability forms an integral part of their value sets and manufacturing practices.

By Irene Joseph Chiramel 

30  June 2024

MuzwAa spoke to (clockwise from top left) Emer Gillespie, Daniel Blaker, Katherine Mathew, Lottie Davies, James Burleigh and Jo Andersson about how sustainability shapes their design practices at the Clerkenwell Design Week 2024, London | Images Courtesy of AarHuss Global

At a time when the design and building industry is under increasing scrutiny for the carbon emissions it causes, the Clerkenwell Design Week 2024, which swept through London this May, offered a great platform for creative studios to present novel design solutions aimed at driving positive change. 

MuzwAa interviewed 6 such designers whose values and practices illuminate how sustainability must be looked at holistically across the entire lifecycle of design — from the selection of raw materials through to manufacturing processes and consideration of end-of-life scenarios. Here are selected excerpts from our conversations with Lottie Davies, Jo Andersson, Daniel Blaker, Katherine Mathew, Emer Gillespie and James Burleigh.

Lottie Davies / Coldharbour Lights 

Lottie Davies is the founder of London-based decorative lighting design house Coldharbour Lights, which specializes in the design and production of original feather light shades. The studio strives to minimize the carbon footprint of its products in as many ways as possible. “The feathers we use are not from rare or endangered species,“ said Davies of her design and manufacturing process. “All the feathers we use are poultry by-products: from chickens, geese, and cock tail feathers. And we dye them all by hand.”

Lottie Davies | Image Courtesy of Coldharbour Lights

Jo Andersson / Jo Andersson Studios

American-born Swedish artist Jo Andersson is the founder of her eponymous lighting design studio. Andersson specializes in creating high-end glass sculptures and lighting while pushing the boundaries of contemporary design. Her sculptures are hand-blown without the use of molds, and filled with water to create a stunning play of light. "In today's fast-paced world, I believe it's essential to cater to everyone's needs,“ she says of what guides her design, “and I strive to contribute positively by enhancing people's well-being and self-esteem.” 

Jo Andersson | Image by Sarah Maria Yasdani; Courtesy of  Jo Andersson Studios

Daniel Blaker / Nulty 

For Daniel Blaker, the creative director of London-based lighting studio Nulty, sustainability has always been high on the agenda. He believes that designers need to be leading conversations about the bigger picture. “It’s not just about how light works and feels,“ he said, “we need to be exploring the future life of projects and the impact our industry has on the environment.” Blaker also spoke about how it’s quite easy to become siloed in one’s day-to-day practice and that only by embracing diverse perspectives and ideas can the industry move towards meaningful impact. “I think it's very important to look laterally, to see what everyone else is doing. The only way to move forward is by taking on board other people's creativity and influences." 

Daniel Blaker | Image Courtesy of Nulty

Katherine Mathew / KODA 

Led by spouses Katherine Mathew and Jamie Hoyle, KODA is a Yorkshire-based furniture studio that specializes in bespoke furniture designs and craftsmanship.  When asked about their design values and ethos, creative director Mathew emphasized their commitment to sustainability by using waste. “We repurpose waste materials that would otherwise end up in landfills,” she said, ”and approach our designs with ingenuity. Working within these constraints actually enhances our creativity and design acumen. By avoiding adherence to fleeting styles or trends, we aim to create timeless pieces that endure [the test of time].”

Katherine Mathew | Image Courtesy of KODA

Emer Gillespie / Spark & Bell 

Founder of Spark & Bell, Emer Gillespie believes there is a growing conversation around sustainability. The Brighton-based bespoke lighting firm focuses on a closed-loop design process: by designing sustainable, adaptable, and regenerative products, they aim to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency, thereby reducing environmental impact and promoting a circular economy. “We collaborate closely with local artisans, craftspeople, ceramicists, and carpenters,” said Gillespie. “Our commitment extends to transforming both our waste and that of other local businesses into beautiful materials, such as the ones showcased here [at Clerkenwell], including marble which is crafted from recycled packaging waste."

Emer Gillespie | Image by Alun Callender; Courtesy of Spark & Bell

James Burleigh / James Burleigh

James Burleigh is a London-based furniture designer and manufacturer specializing in high-quality tables and benches. With a focus on sustainability, the studio designs furniture pieces inspired by circular design and tailored to capture carbon. "The timber we use at the studio is sourced from local trees that have fallen during storms,” says Burleigh of their manufacturing and production process, “while our surface finishes are crafted from waste generated by our extraction system — specifically from wood chips and dust produced by our machinery.”

James Burleigh | Image Courtesy of James Burleigh

This article is part of MuzwAa’s coverage of the Clerkenwell Design Week 2024 as an official media partner.


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